|The remaining fuzz doesn’t deter Nash from being ready to go. Only five months old, he’d yet to shed his chick fluff, but the dark-lined eyes are very grown-up. There is no way other than a DNA test to determine the sex of an albatross. Most of the chicks are banded and tested while still in the nest.
The last of many videos we made of the Laysan Albatross in Kauai, Hawaii, was in 2015. Enjoy this for a good chuckle.
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Vinny awoke this morning and decided, “Today’s the day,” and began the long walk to the edge of the cliff. He waited 18 days for his parents to return with more food. When they did not return, knowing it was time for their chick to fledge, Vinny took it upon himself to head out and begin his year’s long journey until the day would come for him to return with a mate and begin the process all over again. Albatross waddle when they walk.
One of our favorite memories during our years of world travel was the exquisite stay in Kauai, Hawaii, beginning on January 16, 2015, and ending in mid-May. In October, we’d arrived in the islands, spending time in Oahu; Maui; Big Island, where the family came to visit for the Christmas holidays; and ending up spending the final four months on the island of Kauai known as the Garden Island for its lush greenery.
|It was a long walk for Vinny and the other chicks from the nest to the cliff’s edge.|
Those four months will remain in our minds for many reasons. We made many friends and enjoyed an active social life, many with whom we are still in close contact.
|Nash begins to hike from the nest to the cliff’s edge.|
We lived across the street from the sea in the beautiful community of Princeville with incredible sunrise and sunset views with great walking paths, easy access to grocery shopping, restaurants, and breathtaking scenic drives.
|“This looks scary,” says Nash. “It’s a shame I’m having a bad hair day for my first journey.”|
One of Kauai’s many charms includes the thousands, if not a million, of feral chickens that are everywhere, thriving in the gorgeous year-round weather with rich soil providing plenty of food sources for their pecking.
Also, with Kauai as one of Hawaii’s popular tourist attractions, visitors often take delight in feeding the chickens, roosters, and chicks. The influx of the chicken population resulted from hurricanes that wiped our chicken coops throughout the island, leaving thousands of chickens free to roam at their leisure.
|“So what if I don’t look very grown up! I can do this!”|
A simple trip to the grocery store resulted in maneuvering one’s way through hundreds of chickens in the parking lot scrounging for any food tendered by shoppers and outdoor diners. Their presence left us in stitches over and over again when they aggressively pursued humans for food at every turn.
|“I’m almost there.”|
Each morning we were awakened by the sounds of dozens of roosters crowing, and in no time at all, we slept right through it. The rambunctious little chicks scurrying along following their moms and dads were also swoon-worthy.
Beside all these delights of this exquisite island was the indescribable joy and excitement we experienced while observing the life cycle of the Laysan Albatross that nested within a short distance of our condo in a beautiful neighborhood of single-family homes where many of our newly-made friends lived.
|It’s a big commitment worthy of contemplation.|
Our dear friend Richard, who lived in that neighborhood, introduced us to the 15 mating pairs of Laysan Albatross, who were taking turns sitting on their single egg in perfectly formed nests in many homes’ front yards.
|“I can do this,” says Vinny.|
From that point in January, we visited the neighborhood almost daily to see how everything was progressing and to observe the loving and nurturing nature between the mating pairs. They diligently shared the responsibilities of sitting on their egg, taking turns to head out to sea for food, returning days later, enthusiastically greeting one another. In contrast, sharing squid, they’d found on their journey.
|“Hey Ma, hey Pa! Are you watching me? Look what I can do!”|
We’ll never forget February 4th, when dear friend Richard, who has since passed away, called to let us know the chicks were “pipping.” We couldn’t get there quickly enough to experience the unique joy of watching these little chicks come to life.
|What a gorgeous young Laysan Albatross, moments before fledging!|
Over the next several months, we shared videos and photos of our almost daily experiences with these magical birds, which may be found in our archived from February 2015 to May 2015, when we were scheduled to cruise to our following location, Sydney, from which we traveled to Trinity Beach, Queensland, Australia.
|Vinny was leaping off the cliff to his new life.|
We left Kauai only weeks before the chicks fledged off the cliffs in the neighborhood, but our dear friends sent us photos of the incredible experience. As a result, many of today’s photos were taken by our friends and sent to us to savor, as the precious creatures finally ventured out to years at sea, where one day, they too, would return to nest in this very same neighborhood. Such joy!
|“Finally, I’m free!”|
It is these types of memories that help us get through these challenging times during lockdown and uncertainty. Perhaps, someday, we’ll return to Kauai to again be a part of this life-changing experience.
Photo from one year ago today, July 7, 2019:
|Seafaring boat on dry dock in Connemara, Ireland. For more details, please click here.|